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“It’s the beginning of new relationships, new projects, and new collaborations”

NP ‘E.V.A.’ employee Natalia Utrovskaya has just returned from a trip to the Far East. She visited three cities to meet with HIV-positive people, doctors,…
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NP ‘E.V.A.’ employee Natalia Utrovskaya has just returned from a trip to the Far East. She visited three cities to meet with HIV-positive people, doctors, and non-profit staff.
“Healthy Mother, Healthy Child” project coordinator Natalia Utrovskaya has just returned from a trip to the Far East. As part of the proejct she visited Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and the small town Artyom.
The trip, which included long flights, lasted a week. In Khabarovsk Natalia met with the project coordinator Inessa Romanova. On the same day she was able to chat with clients of the project, one of which came to seek assistance from the social worker.
Besides this, Natalia visited the Khabarovsk AIDS center, met with the head, Anna Valerievna Kuznetsova, and told her about the work of the project “Healthy Mother, Healthy Child” as well as about the opportunities for cooperation between the center and NP ‘E.V.A.’. Specialists from the organizational-methodical department introduced Natalia to the clinic, where not only HIV-positive individuals can be given care, but also any resident of the Khabarovsk krai.
Natalia met separately with obstetrician and gynecologist Tatiana Vasilevna Saveleva and a nurse with whom she works daily at the AIDS center. Together with the regional coordinator they can identify the most difficult situations and reasons why pregnant women or women with small children seek medical help so late and/or why they are in need of psycho-social support when beginning treatment for HIV. Tatiana Vasilevna remarked that timely participation of the project’s employees is an important component on the path to adherence to treatment for HIV-positive women.
In general, the situation in the Khabarovsk krai is not terrible in terms of providing women with medical and other services. In particular, each HIV-positive woman has the possibility to receive breastmilk substitute (BMS) free-of-charge for infants and children up to one year of age. According to statistics, there are currently 14 children and teenagers living with HIV in the krai. The prevention of vertical HIV-transmission is provided rather well.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Primorsky krai, where there are currently 90 registered HIV-positive children and teens. The main and only AIDS center is located in Vladivostok while the krai is made up of more than 10 cities across its huge expansive territory, and, for example, in order to travel from Ussuriisk to Vladivostok it takes a day and a half.
At the AIDS center Natalia met with the activists Olesia and Oleg who work as peer counselors on a volunteer basis. In spite of the fact that their work is greatly valued by the center’s leadership and is considered irreplaceable, as is the case in many AIDS centers in the Russian Federation, officially they cannot be taken on as staff.
Elena Yourevna Voitovskaya, doctor-psychotherapist, was looking forward to Natalia’s arrival in Vladivostok as she has long wished to become acquainted with the work of ‘E.V.A.’ and to share about the events and experience in her work in the Primorsky krai. The conversation lasted longer than anticipated. Elena Yourevna told about how work with pregnant women is conducted in the Primorsky krai and why in recent years the numbers show an increase in infected women, and as a result, children born with HIV-infection.
During the meeting at the Primorsky krai AIDS center Natalia was able to record the opinions of other specialists. Through this she was able to literally piece together the picture of the existing situation and later on this information will be used for NP ‘E.V.A.’s further projects directed towards solving issues in the Far East.
In the town of Artyom she met with HIV-positive teenagers and their parents and guardians as well as with activists and volunteers. She also visited a family that acts as a foster home and has taken eight HIV-positive children into its care.
Thanks to this trip, both Natalia and all the people that she met on the other side of the country, can have strong faith that this is just the beginning of new relationships, new projects, and new collaborations — and without a doubt even further development of the Russian network ‘E.V.A.’ into all the corners of Russia.
Written by Natalia Utrovskaya.

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